Making Tin Can Toys

by Edward Thatcher 1919

Cutting Into and Opening Out Cans and Boxes Part 2

Stack of Tin Cans and Tin Boxes

The raw material from which many of the Toys shown in this book were made.

Cutting a Tin Can The Author at Work

The can should be held in the left hand with the open end or top toward you (see Plate IV, c). Be sure you hold the can in this manner. With the tin snips held in the right hand, start cutting toward the left hand always when cutting around a can or box. Bend the tin out of the way as you cut. You will find that it is impossible to cut in a straight line or to make a continuous unbroken cut while cutting away a large portion of the can. But, after the larger piece is out of the way, the narrow strip remaining above the line may be easily cut away if you cut toward your left hand and hold the open end of the can toward you. It is impossible to cut a straight line around a cylindrical form with a pair of straight shears unless the shears cut from right to left and that part of the metal which is cut away is nearest the operator.

The beginner will perhaps find it easier to handle the cans if a pair of old thin kid gloves are worn. If one can afford it, the pair of double cutting shears such as are listed in the supplementary tools on page 3 I are excellent things to have for opening and cutting around cans. These shears have three blades, and one blade cutting between two fixed blades cuts away a narrow strip of tin as the shears are worked along in such a manner that a straight line may be followed around a can at the first cutting. The point of the single blade may be punched into the side of a can and the, cut started around the can at any point. If many cans are to be cut down, these double cutting shears will save much time and trouble. However, the straight shears will answer well enough, if the above directions are carefully followed.

Be sure to try not to cut to the line the first time you cut around a can. Cut away the larger part first: and then cut to the line when there is only a narrow strip to cut away. Do not mind if the first piece cut away looks very rough and jagged. It may be al little difficult at first, but patience and practice will soon make it quite easy to cut open a can in this manner, using a pair of ordinary straight shears. Cut away the top of the can or the rolled edge adhering to that part of the can which is cut away; trim away all jagged edges; place flat on the bench or anvil and flatten out the tin with light blows of a wooden mallet. Lay this tin aside until needed.

I find it convenient to cut away the top or rolled edge of large round cans before cutting around them near the bottom, as then it is easy to bend the comparatively large sheet of tin out of the way of the shears as I cut around the can at the bottom. A large pair of shears is very convenient for opening large cans, but small ones will do if intelligently used. When cutting metal with a pair of shears, always remember that the shears cut more powerfully near the joint or bolt, particularly when cutting through a folded seam or soldered joint. Keep the shears well oiled and have them sharpened by a competent mechanic when they become dull.

When cutting narrow strips of tin, be careful not to get the tin jammed between the shear blades so that the blades are forced apart sideways. Keep the bolt tightened so that the blades fit closely together. One might suppose that cut or burned fingers would be plentiful in a large class of tin toy makers, but such has not proved to be the case. There have been surprisingly few accidents of this sort and none of them at all serious. One soon learns how to handle tin so as to avoid rough or sharp edges and that a soldering copper is provided with an ample handle so that it may be safely and easily handled when hot.